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The Supreme Court just ruled that $6 billion in student-loan forgiveness for 200,000 borrowers can move forward

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:57pm
A sign reading "Cancel Student Debt" staged outside of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that $6 billion in student-debt relief for 200,000 borrowers can move forward.
  • This relief is part of a settlement from a lawsuit filed in 2019 by borrowers who said they were defrauded.
  • Three schools named in the settlement had asked the Supreme Court to pause the relief.

The Supreme Court just handed thousands of student-loan borrowers a victory.

On Thursday, the nation's highest court ruled that $6 billion in student debt relief for 200,000 borrowers — a result of a settlement from a years-long lawsuit now known as Sweet vs. Cardona. The lawsuit was first filed in 2019 under former President Donald Trump on behalf of borrowers with stalled borrower defense claims, or claims borrowers can file if they believe they were defrauded by the school they attended. If approved, their debt would be wiped out.

President Joe Biden's Education Department agreed to a settlement last summer, and a federal judge signed off on the relief in November. However, shortly after, three schools named in the settlement appealed the decision and requested a lower court pause the relief as the legal process plays out. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the request, and now, the Supreme Court came to the same conclusion.

"The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is denied," the Supreme Court wrote in its very brief decision. It offered no explanation for its decision.

The three schools argued in their legal filing that they were not given "due process" to respond to the claims in the settlement, and they said they suffer reputational harm from the settlement. However, the Education Department pushed back on those claims, writing in its response filed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday that "the Department has already begun implementing the settlement by notifying class members that they will receive discharges, directing loan servicers to start processing those discharges, updating its own internal systems to reflect the rescission of previous denials, and beginning the adjudication process for those reopened cases through the settlement's streamlined procedures."

"The whipsawing that would occur if the settlement were stayed would cause confusion among the affected borrowers, loan servicers, and the public and would undermine the Department's ability to effectively implement the borrower-defense program," it said.

This decision is separate from Biden's broad plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers. That plan was paused in November due to two conservative-backed lawsuits seeking to permanently block the relief, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the cases in February. It's expected to issue a final decision on the legality of the broad debt relief plan by June.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I ditched a big city for a $5,000 fixer-upper with 8 bedrooms in a small town. It's nice to live in a place where people don't treat each other like strangers.

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:55pm
John Nichols and his wife Katie bought this Huntington, West Virginia, house built in 1881.
  • John Nichols moved to Huntington, West Virginia, in 2021 after growing tired of Chicago.
  • Nichols wanted a slower pace of life and to feel more connected with his community.
  • He and his wife are restoring a condemned 1881 home they bought for $5,000.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with John Nichols, 47, about his move to Huntington, West Virginia, after growing tired of living in Chicago. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I was born in Chicago in 1975 and spent forty years living on the North Side. I loved growing up in the city and especially admired its architecture.

However, in the 2000s the city began to change. Older buildings were torn down, the cost of living began to rise, and the city's middle class started to disappear. By 2010, I knew I was ready to leave Chicago. 

When my wife, Katie, suggested we move in 2020, I took her up on the offer.

I moved to West Virginia to reclaim my peace 

While Katie and her family — who immigrated to America from Germany during the Cold War – had always lived in Chicago, she really wanted to move to West Virginia, a state where my own grandparents had lived. 

Katie thought that living in West Virginia would be nice because the weather was much warmer than it was in Chicago. I wanted to live there because of its slower pace of living and sense of community.

In Chicago, you have to work 80 hours a week and everyone is always on the go. You end up sitting in traffic a lot and everybody is always honking their horns. In West Virginia, there's no traffic and everyone is friendly  —  I haven't heard a horn honk since I moved to the state.

My wife and I purchased a home in an idyllic neighborhood 

In July of 2021, my wife and I moved to Huntington, West Virginia, a small college town mostly known for being the backdrop of the 2006 film We Are Marshall

We lived in my grandmother's home for some time but then eventually purchased a camper that we parked in an airfield. While searching for a more permanent home, my wife and I came across an eight-bedroom, three-bathroom home on in August 2021.

The home was built in 1881 on a civil war battlefield and even had its own parlor. It was located in the oldest section of Huntington, and sat on a block filled with houses that were mostly built in the 1920s.

The Nichols' house in Huntington, West Virginia.

At first, I did not want to purchase the home because it was listed for $35,000 and needed a lot of work. I knew I would not be able to secure financing needed for the property, so we continued looking at different homes.

A year later, we saw the home again, this time listed on Facebook Marketplace. It had been condemned and its asking price had dropped $30,000 to $5,000. We went on to purchase the home from a private seller in May 2022. 

The home still needs considerable repairs to make it liveable. I anticipate that it will take us about three years and $150,000 to complete the restoration — but it will be worth it. 

When we lived in Chicago, we were paying $1,650 a month for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat. Now we have a huge house that does not even have a mortgage.

The property taxes are also a lot cheaper in Huntington than they were in Chicago. Instead of paying $10,000 a year for a three bedroom house, the rate is just $400 here. 

I think a lot of people are over living in big cities

I know that some people may have a negative view of West Virginia, but it's the most welcoming place I've ever been. In Huntington, everybody's really nice — residents don't treat people like strangers but instead future friends.

There are also a lot of things to do in the city. Huntington's downtown area has many great restaurants. When we want to be active, we can also travel into the mountains or nearby state parks with our dogs.

I think aspects like these are making West Virginia more popular, especially for people who have had enough of big city life. I've seen a lot of residents from California and Chicago moving into Huntington.

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Amazon shoppers rally against new fee for some returns made via UPS: 'They need to learn to ship things better then'

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:48pm
Kohl's and Amazon inked a deal in 2019 that allows Amazon customers to return items at Kohl's stores.
  • Amazon will begin charging for returns via UPS in some cases. 
  • Some customers have taken to social media to bash the $1 charge. 
  • "They need to learn to ship things better then," one Twitter user wrote.

Amazon will start charging for some returns delivered via UPS, and customers of the e-commerce giant aren't taking kindly to the new $1 fee. 

The company will add the charge only if there is another free-return option — such as a Whole Foods, Kohl's, or Amazon Fresh store — the same distance away or closer, Insider's Avery Hartmans reported

"We always offer a free option for customers to return their item," Eileen Hards, a spokesperson for Amazon, told Insider in a statement. "If a customer would prefer to return their item at a UPS Store when there is a free option closer to their delivery address, a very small amount of customers may incur a $1 fee."

Though the fee is small, many customers took to social media to voice their displeasure with Amazon's delivery services, spouting claims of damaged, lost, and low-quality orders. 

"They need to learn to ship things better then," one Twitter user wrote. "I've gotten so many items from Amazon damaged because they don't package products in appropriate shipping bags or correct size boxes."


"Y'all can't even get my packages to the right address after constantly telling y'all (@amazon) that y'all have the wrong location on," wrote another user

Underneath many of the social media comments railing against Amazon's shipping practices, the company was quick to offer help and responses — each of which was tagged with what appeared to be the name of an Amazon worker. 

"We're so sorry to hear about the missing package! Just to clarify, do you currently have a missing order that's been marked as delivered here: Keep us posted! -Andrew," wrote the Amazon Help Twitter account. 

—Amazon Help (@AmazonHelp) April 13, 2023


UPS wasn't safe from customer criticism, either. Some Twitter users took to bashing the shipping company for its handling of packages as well. 

"I ordered 2 smart watches ordered at @UPS said they delivered to my rear door, which is impossible because I live on an upper floor apartment.  So if they're going to charge a fee they may want to make sure their shipping partners are doing their part," one user wrote on Twitter

UPS joined Amazon in similarly responding to such comments and offering assistance as needed. 

"Hello, Bekah. I am sorry to hear that you have not received your package. Please DM us your tracking number, delivery address, email, and phone number. So we can follow up. -Mayra," UPS responded in a tweet


Read the original article on Business Insider

Florida Democrat tried to emulate Disney's power move in a final-ditch effort against Florida's abortion ban, which is now headed to DeSantis for his signature

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:42pm
Democrats introduced dozens of amendments to try to thwart Florida's six-week abortion ban. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated he'll sign the ban into law.
  • GOP lawmakers in Florida sent DeSantis a bill that will make abortion illegal after six weeks.
  • Democrats tried to alter the bill, including by invoking a tactic Disney used to fend off DeSantis.
  • "If it worked for Disney, maybe it'll work for me," a Democratic lawmaker said. 

Florida Democrats on Thursday pulled numerous stops to try to keep the state's near-total abortion ban from ever taking effect, including invoking a tactic Walt Disney World successfully used in a high-profile battle earlier this year. 

But in the face of a Republican supermajority in the Florida House, Democrats' more than 50 amendments failed as Florida representatives sent a six-week ban to GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk, by a vote of 70-40.

Democrats had pledged to put up a fight ahead of Thursday's debate. As part of that fight, Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando presented an amendment that was tied to an obscure property law to keep the abortion ban from going into effect virtually in perpetuity.

Disney successfully used the rule, which invokes England's King Charles III, to retain power of its land earlier this year following a prolonged battle with DeSantis over banning LGBTQ curriculum from classrooms. 

"If it worked for Disney, maybe it'll work for me," Eskamani, who previously worked at Planned Parenthood, said on the state House floor. "Let's delay this abortion ban for as long as we can." 

The amendment failed. Separately, DeSantis has pledged to continue the fight against Disney.

DeSantis is expected to launch a bid for president as early as May, and being able to tout anti-abortion policy wins while campaigning has historically been a prerequisite for a GOP primary. 

But shifting public opinion on abortion could mean DeSantis would lose a general election, even if his abortion legislation helps him win the primary. 

The 2024 contest will be the first presidential race since the conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. During the 2022 midterms, congressional Democrats used abortion rights as a rallying cry and managed to hold onto more seats than expected. 

The implications of the Florida abortion ban on the 2024 race loomed in the background throughout the day. One lawmaker fighting for abortion rights even subtly referred to former President Donald Trump's "DeSanctimonious" nickname against the governor as she railed against the legislation. 

"Keep your sanctimonious opinions for your own family," Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore of Boca Raton said of imposing abortion bans. 

Another Democrat, Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby of St. Petersburg, changed the lyrics of the song "All Too Well" by singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, who is kicking off a concert series in Tampa on Thursday evening. 

"They say all's well that ends well, but Florida is in a new hell," Rayner-Goolsby said. 

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell speaks as Democratic lawmakers and invited speakers hold a press conference to oppose a special legislative session targeting vaccine mandates, on November 15, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.Democrats tried to change the financial provisions in the bill 

Florida's current abortion law, which DeSantis signed, makes abortion illegal after 15 weeks, without exceptions for rape and incest. The law is in effect but is being litigated in court because the Florida Constitution contains a right to privacy that previously has been interpreted as a right to abortion. 

The six-week ban contains abortion exceptions if a pregnancy occurred as a result of rape, incest, or human trafficking, as well as cases where a pregnancy would result in severe health complications or death, or when a fetus has a fatal fetal anomaly.

To obtain an abortion in such cases, patients would have to provide documentation including a medical record, police report, or restraining order. Last year's Florida abortion data show that, of 82,000 abortions in all, 115 occurred following a rape, seven following incest, and none performed due to human trafficking, GOP Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka of Fort Myers said, reading from a state report. 

"When I drafted this bill, my intention was to protect life," she said. 

Democrats presented dozens of amendments to modify the bill, formally known as the Parenting and Pregnancy Support Act.

They proposed a provision to allow abortions if a pregnancy were to result in mental health consequences or significant financial hardship. They also proposed renaming the bill the "Forced Pregnancy Act" and guaranteeing three months of paid parental leave. 

Democrats subsequently targeted a $25 million provision in the legislation for anti-abortion "crisis pregnancy centers," which work to persuade pregnant women to give birth or choose adoption. 

While the centers do provide counseling, financial assistance, and baby supplies to families, they've been derided by Democrats as "fake clinics" because many don't have healthcare providers on staff. Democrats proposed diverting the funds to other areas, including childcare, long-acting contraception, diaper and milk banks, and rape crisis centers.

An amendment barring crisis pregnancy centers from using state money to advertise their services on billboards also failed. 

The House gathered for hours to debate the bill, with emotional floor speeches on both sides of the issue. Lawmakers told stories of patients who suffered serious health complications as a result of pregnancy. Some lawmakers who supported the six-week ban said they believed in going even further, but aimed the cut off at a time when an embryo's cardiac activity can be detected. 

"It amounts to an outright ban," House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell of Tampa said on the House floor. "Most women don't know they're pregnant at six weeks." 

Roughly an hour into the question-and-answer portion of the bill's debate, House Speaker Paul Renner of Palm Coast kicked out protesters who gathered in the gallery after they threw ripped papers onto the floor. 

Renner said he wanted "there to be passionate debate on both sides" but warned observers against shouting, jeering, or clapping early in the day. The proceedings, he said, should be held "like a courtroom."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Morgan Stanley's US stock chief sees more than 20% downside coming for the S&P 500 and warns of an earnings recession on banking sector turmoil

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:31pm
  • Morgan Stanley's Mike Wilson backed his forecast for an earnings recession amid banking sector concerns.
  • The equity strategist sees the S&P 500 falling more than 20% before parring losses by year-end. 
  • JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo are kicking off earnings on Friday.

Morgan Stanley forecasts a downturn coming for US stocks, with the S&P 500 dropping over 20% later this year amid a looming earnings recession and fallout in the banking sector.

Mike Wilson, the Wall Street giant's US chief equity strategist, reiterated his base-case scenario for the S&P 500 to end the year at 3,900, about 6% below current levels. His bear case is 3,600, and his bull case is 4,200.

But along the way, he still expects the gauge to hit a trough of 3,000-3,300 for this cycle, representing a decline of more than 20%.

"That path to 3,900 still goes through the low 3,000s ultimately," Wilson told Bloomberg TV on Thursday.

Despite the Federal Reserve's aggressive monetary tightening campaign, US stocks have remained fairly resilient. The S&P 500 is up 8% year-to-date, while the Nasdaq Composite has surged 17% in the same time frame. 

The slew of bank failures in March and subsequent contagion fears, however, don't bode well for corporate earnings.

"We're in the earnings recession camp. So whether we have an economic recession or not it isn't as important as the earnings recession," Wilson said. "The earnings situation is way worse than what the consensus thinks... The banking stress only makes us even more confident of that."

JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo are kicking off earnings season on Friday. Analysts at Goldman Sachs expect US corporate profits to post their biggest decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The viral success of ByteDance's new app Lemon8 shows just how pointless a TikTok ban would be

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:26pm
Bytedance is pushing a new social media app in the US, Lemon8, as it deals with calls for a TikTok ban.
  • Amid talk of a TikTok ban, its Chinese parent company ByteDance is pushing a new app in the US called Lemon8. 
  • Lemon8 uses the same coveted algorithm as TikTok, and is looking to replicate its success.
  • The early success of Lemon8 shows how banning TikTok wouldn't actually solve anything, experts say.

As calls for a national TikTok ban escalate, its China-based parent company ByteDance is pushing a new app in the US called Lemon8

Lemon8, described as something of a hybrid of Instagram and Pinterest, uses TikTok's famous recommendation algorithm to deliver users content around fashion, beauty, food, and travel. And it's quickly found some success with American users: It was briefly in the top 10 free apps on Apple's App Store around its launch at the end of March, and remains in the top 50 to this day.

Because Lemon8 is powered by the same underlying technology as TikTok, and owned by the same Chinese company, it should theoretically be subject to the same concerns around potential privacy and national security risks as its better-known older sibling. Which is to say that even if TikTok gets banned, Lemon8 will likely keep standing.

It's reflective of ByteDance's strategy of focusing on growing its US customer base, experts say. Even if TikTok gets banned, ByteDance is showing that it's willing and able to keep introducing new apps to keep growing. In fact, beyond TikTok and Lemon8, ByteDance has another success in its US portfolio: CapCut, a video-editing app.

"This is a huge business for ByteDance. They're not gonna go down without swinging," David Glancy, a professor at the Institute of World Politics, told Insider.

Banning TikTok wouldn't stop China's influence on US tech

Lemon8's rise illustrates how difficult it would be to totally unwind the influence that Chinese companies now have in the American market. TikTok very much paved the way, as online retailers Temu and Shein have followed in its footsteps, reaching the top of Apple's App Store

"We're seeing the TikTok playbook, applied elsewhere," said Mark Shmulik, an analyst with Bernstein. 

For Lemon8, ByteDance is pushing hard to get creators on the new app. The Chinese tech giant is paying creators to post on Lemon8, and is hiring a creator partnerships team in New York as it looks to expand, Insider previously reported

For TikTok, however, the future is less clear. The Biden administration has ordered ByteDance to sell TikTok's US business to an American company, or else get banned in the country entirely. Meanwhile, bills like the RESTRICT Act are being considered in Congress, which would ban TikTok and other social media apps from countries deemed to pose national security concerns. 

The RESTRICT act, if passed, would likely apply to both TikTok and Lemon8 — but likely not ByteDance's other app, CapCut, which is considered a productivity app, not social media. ByteDance would retain some power and influence in the US. 

Similarly, it's unclear if it would affect touch Temu or Shein, given that they're both owned by corporations with deep ties to China. Temu is owned by PDD Holdings, which also owns Pinduoduo, a social commerce platform in China. Shein was founded in China and is now headquartered in Singapore. 

In a few years time, they could disrupt Amazon's dominance in ecommerce the same way TikTok is disrupting Facebook and Instagram, Shmulik said. That would mean the conversation around those two apps would be at exactly the same place we are around TikTok today.

And on the flip side, Glancy warns that you would need dangerously broad legislation to ban all apps that come out of China. Some legislators and civil rights groups on both sides of the aisle worry that the RESTRICT act itself gives the Executive Branch too much power. In other words, there doesn't seem to be an elegant solution that would actual curtail the perceived risks of all of these China-linked apps without going overboard, experts said.

"This proliferation of this many apps may complicate the legislative strategy," Glancy said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

An obscure, 150-year-old morality law has resurfaced in the legal battle over abortion medication

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:18pm
A law named for morality crusader Anthony Comstock (left) is being used to argue against abortion medication
  • A federal appeals court discussed an obscure, 150-year-old morality law in its decision on abortion medication mifepristone.
  • A challenge to the legality of sending abortion medications via mail referenced the Comstock Act of 1873.
  • A law professor called the legislation an outdated "zombie law" that was now in danger of being "selectively enforced."

An obscure, 150-year-old morality law that one law professor called "zombie" legislation has resurfaced in the legal battle over abortion medication.

The Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision on Wednesday upholding the FDA's approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. But the court ruled that the pill cannot be sent via mail and that patients must get a prescription from a doctor in person.

The court's 42-page decision discussed the Comstock Act of 1873, which challengers of abortion said should be interpreted to ban abortion pills from being sent through the mail.

The Comstock Act was named after Anthony Comstock, a moral crusader in 19th-century America, according to Middle Tennessee State University's First Amendment Encyclopedia.

The law banned the distribution of "obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile" materials through the mail.

And "obscene" materials included not only depictions of sexuality or nudity, but also pamphlets educating women about contraception, as well as medical tools and drugs that helped women have abortions. 

Melissa Murray, an NYU law professor who specializes in constitutional law and reproductive rights, told Insider that the Comstock Act was originally written as a morality law aimed at addressing the country's "moral failures" by steering citizens away from the "path to moral degradation." 

Murray says the law was created in a climate where there was a growing fear that the US was "becoming a less American nation, in large part because immigrants [were] reproducing at far greater rates than their native white counterparts." 

And Comstock, Murray explained, launched this morality campaign in the interest of "prompting white women to be mothers, and actually compelling them to be mothers by taking away the various technologies that would enable them to control that decision for themselves."

A 'zombie law' that should've been repealed

Murray says invoking this "zombie law" is "rolling back modernity."  

"The law hasn't been enforced by the federal government since the 1930s," Murray said. "That tells you sort of where it has been. And I think most people assumed that it was sort of permanently in a state of [destitution], not likely to be enforced. But, of course, it was never repealed." 

Murray said that the Comstock Act is being "selectively enforced" to argue only against abortion access because, for example, the law also bans the distribution of pornographic pamphlets.

No one has attempted to use the old law to prohibit modern lewd magazines, like Playboy. 

"I hope people in Congress will take seriously the view that the Comstock Act was sort of a dead letter that needed to be repealed," Murray said, "So that it couldn't be this kind of zombie law that could be resuscitated whenever someone decided it was appropriate to do so." 

The federal appeals court ruling will almost certainly be taken up by the US Supreme Court, where conservative justices — who previously wiped out a nationwide right to abortion last year — will hear the case.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Dow soars 383 points as US stocks jump on more signs inflation is falling

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:12pm
  • US stocks jumped on Thursday on more signs of falling inflation and a cooling labor market.
  • Investors cheered data that showed a big drop in the Producer Price Index in March. 
  • All three major indexes ended higher, with the S&P 500 notching its best day since February.

US stocks jumped on Thursday amid more signs of falling inflation and and a softening labor market, paving the way for the Federal Reserve to possibly pull back on its rate hike campaign. 

The three major indexes ended the session with a gain, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining almost 400 points and the S&P 500 enjoying its best day since February.

Investors cheered a steep decline in the producer price index in March. Wholesale inflation tumbled to 2.7% on an annualized, its lowest level since January 2021. 

Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims clocked in at 239,000 on April 8, over economists' estimates of 235,000.

The new batch of data is offering more signs of a cooling economy, after the Fed hiked rates aggressively in 2022. Markets are now pricing in a 68% chance the Fed hikes rates just 25 basis points at its next policy meeting, and a 31% chance the Fed pauses rate hikes, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

Here's where US indexes stood shortly after the 4:00 p.m. ET close on Thursday:

Here's what else is going on: 

In commodities, bonds, and crypto: 

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The head of tech at indie music publisher TuneCore credits the company's growth to its collaborative approach to building new products

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:00pm
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  • TuneCore is an independent digital music distribution, publishing, and licensing service.
  • Alisha Outridge, a tech exec helping TuneCore evolve, shared how businesses can maximize technology.
  • This article is part of "Tech Leadership Playbook," a series that shares advice from the most innovative tech execs.

Music is an intrinsic part of human culture that has existed for about 35,000 years, according to the Smithsonian Institution. Thanks to the advancement of technology, music is transforming rapidly and becoming more accessible than ever before. 

Digital music distribution platform TuneCore is one company that is driving technological advancements in the industry. The service provides independent musicians and record labels with digital tools to grow an audience for their music with the ultimate goal of building long-lasting careers. These include tools for digital distribution, publishing administration, sync licensing, and YouTube monetization.

In an industry dominated by behemoths like Spotify and Apple Music, TuneCore continues to strengthen. Since its founding in 2006, TuneCore — which is now owned by global digital music company Believe — has issued more than $3 billion worth of payments to independent artists and currently operates in 150 countries around the world. In 2022, Believe's revenue also topped $1 billion.

The mastermind behind TuneCore's product, technology, and operations is chief technology and product officer (CTPO) Alisha Outridge. She's also responsible for implementing tools, services, and processes that enable TuneCore's employees to "achieve our goals effectively so that we can best represent the interests of independent artists and labels in the music industry."

Alisha Outridge.

Outridge spoke to Insider about how music companies can use technology in products and internal processes to transform the industry.

Tech execs should embrace their role as a guiding light for their companies 

Outridge said the key to being a successful CTPO is having a strong understanding of areas like engineering, entrepreneurship, product, technology, and organizational leadership while possessing "a passion for shaping the future of their company in the market and building a team to create impact together, smartly, and at scale." 

Innovation and scale are important factors in TuneCore's global success, Outridge said. "Tactically, I draft and review short- and long-term roadmaps, set goals, brainstorm solutions, and lead my teams to balance innovation alongside operations to achieve our business and technology goals," she said.

When it comes to developing and implementing an effective IT strategy, Outridge said there isn't a "one-size fits all" option. Instead, IT practitioners should consider the specific needs of their company, particularly around its size, number of employees, and products. 

Keep evaluating and establishing design principles for products and processes

At TuneCore, Outridge has adopted "continuous product design and execution" principles across product, technology, operations, and support functions. The two main aims are growing and leveling up TuneCore's people, products, and processes. This approach helps the business evaluate "all angles of who we are, what we are creating, and how we do it in the best way at scale globally and thoughtfully per market," Outridge said. 

She explained that a cross-discipline strategy would be defining a goal, identifying a minimum viable solution (MVS), acknowledging your assumptions, building a solution, reviewing results, and repeating the process.

To create the most impactful products, TuneCore utilizes a dual qualitative and quantitative measurement approach. This entails conducting surveys with business partners and artists, organizing one-on-one customer interviews, launching beta releases of key features in phases, and reviewing automated testing models.

The product team at TuneCore ensures its objectives and goals are mapped to key performance indicators (KPIs) through the use of performant frameworks. This helps them quickly analyze the factors that impact user-facing product features and explore operational improvements that define the MVS for artists. 

To ensure its IT strategy is a success, TuneCore's engineering team embraces strategies like cross-functional collaboration, a culture of experimentation, and data-driven decision-making that improves internal processes and operational systems. They also employ tools such as emerging technologies that help create new products, flexible and scalable systems for music distribution, and pair programming through which engineers and quality assurance specialists share ways to improve the quality of TuneCore's internal and external services.

Looking to the future

When asked how leaders at non-tech companies can apply technology to their day-to-day roles and operations, Outridge recommended that they speak to their peers about how technology has helped them and create an organizational value chain. 

"That will enable you to be able to continuously test your assumptions and learn how you're leveraging that technology so that you can understand how it is driving impact," she said.

Reflecting on the past decade, Outridge said Web 2.0 technologies have transformed "how fans discover new music and artists, connect with their favorite artists, and how artists create music." 

She expects Web 3.0 — a term describing emerging technologies like decentralization, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies — to create "even more opportunities for musicians" and signaled that TuneCore will adopt these further down the line.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elon Musk edges closer to his 'everything app' dream as Twitter enables trading via eToro

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:58pm
Elon Musk.
  • Twitter has partnered with brokerage firm eToro to give users more financial data.
  • If they choose to trade, they can also access eToro's site through the social-media app.
  • The collaboration is a step toward Musk's plans to create an "everything app." 

Twitter and the brokerage firm eToro will allow the social-media app's users to trade stocks and other assets, including crypto.

By offering a service outside of social media functions, the collaboration marks a step toward turning Twitter into an "everything app," something CEO Elon Musk has said he plans to do since taking over the company last year for $44 billion.

Although Twitter users have been able to look up financial data since 2022 through "Cashtags" by typing in a dollar sign and ticker symbol, the partnership will expand the amount of financial assets that can be viewed.

And if a user wants to invest, Twitter will then take them to eToro's site, where they can trade stocks, cryptocurrencies and index funds. The new feature will begin appearing in the app on Thursday, eToro disclosed to CNBC

Twitter's new trading feature comes after Musk merged Twitter under the X Corp this week and filed for regulatory licenses that would facilitate in-app payments.

Musk has plans to create a go-to app for a variety of services, and in October, he tweeted, "Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app."

Musk has been talking about building X for months. In August, when a Twitter user asked him whether he had considered creating his own social platform, he replied, "" — a web domain he bought over five years ago.

At Tesla's annual shareholder meeting that same month, Musk said he had "a pretty grand vision" for X as "something that would be very useful to the world."

And Musk indicated in May that he might look for inspiration from Tencent's WeChat, a Chinese social media juggernaut that's one of the largest super-apps in the world.

"If you're in China, you kind of live on WeChat," he said. "It does everything — sort of like Twitter, plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of things, and all rolled into one, with a great interface. It's really an excellent app, and we don't have anything like that outside of China."

Read the original article on Business Insider

What's in the leaked Pentagon documents that could hurt Ukraine and has US officials panicking

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:55pm
Gen. Mark Milley speaks at a Pentagon press conference in March.
  • A trove of secret Pentagon documents has surfaced online in recent weeks.
  • The FBI arrested Jack Teixeira, an airman in the National Guard, in connection with the leak on Thursday.
  • Ex-military and intelligence officials say the leak is embarrassing to the US and poses a significant national security threat.

Dozens of secret documents from the Pentagon were posted online in recent weeks in what some experts say is one of the most significant intelligence leaks in decades. The classified documents detail the US's intelligence gathering capabilities and expose how the US spies on allies and adversaries alike.

Officials are still trying to wrap their heads around the full scale of the leak. And if it's as serious as recent reporting suggests, then "the impact to relations with foreign partners may be significant," retired US Army Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, a former defense attaché to Russia, told Insider.

There are many open questions surrounding the leak, including whether all of the documents that have circulated on various social media platforms are authentic as officials scramble to investigate. Many of the documents appear to be intelligence briefing materials on a wide range of subjects, dating back to around early March. They bear a variety of classification marks, from indications that the document was intended for the Five Eyes network involving only the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand to "NOFORN" markings barring sharing abroad and representing a higher level of sensitivity.

On Thursday, FBI agents arrested an National Guard airman linked to a closed gamer chat where the documents were posted at his family home in Massachusetts.

What happened?

Based on recent reports, approximately 100 documents were leaked online. Many of the documents, which largely appear to be from the Pentagon, are labeled "top secret" and a number were seemingly prepared for Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and other senior leaders.

In the past, intelligence leaks have often been made public via a central hub like WikiLeaks or published by major media outlets, but that's not the case here. Photos of the documents — showing them with folds and on top of magazines — were leaked across various online forums, and at least some appear to have been crudely altered. 

"We know that some of them have been doctored," National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Monday. "I won't speak to the validity of all the documents, the ones that don't immediately appear to be doctored. We're still working through the validity of all the documents that we know are out there." 

Kirby said the Biden administration was still "studying" the veracity and the validity of the documents. 

When were the documents leaked and who leaked them?

According to the investigative outlet Bellingcat, the documents date back to early March and were first posted to the gamer messaging platform Discord. But Bellingcat reported that some of the materials date back to January and may have been leaked online earlier. Reporting from the Washington Post indicates that some of the documents were initially posted to a private Discord group in late 2022. Images of the documents have also been shared on other online platforms, including Twitter, Telegram, and 4chan.

US officials first became aware of the leak last Thursday, after The Times published a story about the documents. 

The leak has been traced back to a private Discord group led by Jack Teixeira, 21, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard who worked in the 102nd Intelligence Wing, The Times reported on Thursday. The Discord group, Thug Shaker Central, was comprised of roughly 25 members — including foreign nationals from Ukraine and Russia, according to The Post, which spoke with members. People in the group bonded over a love of military gear, guns, and God, the Post said.

Teixeira was arrested by federal agents on Thursday in Massachusetts. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Teixeira was arrested in "connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information."

Leaked documents claim that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sought to attack Russian troop deployments inside Russia with drones.What's in the documents?

Insider obtained copies of some of the documents that were apparently leaked, which primarily focus on the war in Ukraine but also touch on issues ranging from the recent protests over judicial reform in Israel to Iran's nuclear program. 

The documents offer a window into the extent of US intelligence gathering about Russia and the notorious Wagner mercenary group that has been fighting on the Kremlin's behalf in Ukraine.

The contents of the documents raised immediate questions about whether the leak could endanger human sources or prompt Moscow to make changes to its plans vis-a-vis Ukraine that could hinder Washington's ability to gauge its next move. In the past, according to some of the leaked materials, the US was able to successfully warn Ukraine with specifics about impending Russian attacks, per the Washington Post.

Some documents also seemingly show how the US keeps tabs on allies and partners like Ukraine, South Korea, and Israel. One of the documents, reviewed and reported on by CNN, points to US spying on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his desire to use drones to strike Russian troops based in Russia who were likely headed for Ukraine. That could explain, in part, why the US has been reluctant to provide Kyiv with longer-range weapons. 

The documents also appear to feature maps that paint a picture of the state of the war in March, while others focus on expected weapons deliveries and estimated casualties.

Ukrainian artillery teams fire toward Russian positions in Bakhmut.

Some assess Ukraine's combat capabilities after a year of fighting, pointing to looming issues with air defenses and munitions supplies as Kyiv preps for an expected spring counteroffensive that's heavily dependent on slow-to-arrive Western arms. One document appears to detail a plan to persuade Israel into providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Another discusses South Korea's concerns surrounding the US's call for it to provide ammunition to Ukraine. 

Some documents appear to feature maps showing Ukraine's air defenses and the locations and combat readiness of its troops — experts say these materials are a huge national security risk and could be a potential windfall for Russia.

"This is not the first time classified documents have been leaked but it is one of the few times in recent history where the documents may have included information about ongoing military operations. That would make this doubly harmful," Ryan said.

That said, Ukrainian officials have expressed skepticism about the validity of the documents. 

"The aim of secret data 'leaks' is obvious: divert attention, cast doubts & mutual suspicions, sow discord," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in a tweet on Saturday.

How big a deal is the leak?

The Washington Post reported that after the leak first became public knowledge, there was panic among Pentagon officials.

"The Department of Defense continues to review and assess the validity of the photographed documents that are circulating on social media sites and that appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material," the Pentagon said in a statement over the weekend. 

The leaked documents pose a "serious risk" to US national security, Chris Meagher, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, told reporters on Monday, per the Associated Press. 

"We're being very careful and watching where this is being posted and amplified," Meagher added.

Some of the documents leaked appear to have been produced for close US allies that are part of the intelligence  alliance known as Five Eyes, shorthanded in the records as FVEY. A senior intelligence official told The Times the leak is a "nightmare" for the Five Eyes. 

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel on Monday said that the US was "engaging with allies and partners at high levels over this including to reassure them of our commitment to safeguarding intelligence."

It is not unusual for allies to spy on one another, but former military and intelligence officials say that does not make this leak any less embarrassing or consequential for the US. The leak could make allies more wary of sharing intelligence with the US. 

"It's bad," Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who was a CIA officer for 23 years and served in Russia, told Insider. But, for perspective, Mowatt-Larssen also emphasized that this does not appear to be on the same scale as compromising events such as the Edward Snowden leaks. "We're not dealing with an unprecedented problem here in terms of betrayal and compromise," Mowatt-Larssen said.

"I'm not going to say it's not embarrassing and not a problem — of course it is," he added. "And there's always a recalibration after something like this."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Police arrest and charge 38-year-old Nima Momeni with murder in fatal stabbing of Cash App creator Bob Lee

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:54pm
San Francisco's police chief said he couldn't share details of evidence uncovered in the investigation into Cash App founder Bob Lee's death, per ABC-7.
  • The San Francisco Police Department said it arrested a suspect in the fatal stabbing of Bob Lee.
  • The police took 38-year-old Nima Momeni, an individual they say knew Lee, into custody on Thursday.
  • Lee was fatally stabbed on April 4 in downtown San Francisco.

The San Francisco Police Department said it arrested a suspect in its investigation into the fatal stabbing of Cash App creator Bob Lee on Thursday morning.

Police arrested 38-year-old Nima Momeni, confirming prior reports. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said during a press conference that there is evidence that Momeni knew Lee.

Local publication Mission Local first reported the arrest, and said the arrest took place at an address associated with a Nima Momeni who is the owner of Expand IT, an IT services company based in California. 

Insider was unable to reach spokespeople for Expand IT or Momeni for comment.

38-year-old Momeni was booked around 9 a.m. on Thursday, records from the San Francisco Sheriff's Office show.

Momeni faces a murder charge and a "special enhancement" related to the knife that police say was used, the department said. Momeni will be arraigned on Friday at 1:30 p.m. PT. Jenkins said her office is planning to file a motion to detain the suspect without bail.

Authorities declined to give further details on the case during the press conference as the investigation is ongoing.

Mission Local, which first reported the arrest, also reported that Lee was riding in a car with the suspect on the day of the attack and the two men allegedly had "some manner of confrontation."

Lee was the chief product officer of MobileCoin and former CTO of Square. He was fatally stabbed on April 4, NBC first reported. ABC's KGO-TV previously reported that surveillance footage from the moments after the incident showed Lee walking around the Rincon Hill neighborhood in downtown San Francisco and asking for help before the police arrived at the scene.

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Missouri's attorney general opened a new front in the GOP's attacks on transgender people: banning treatment for any adult with depression

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:52pm
People hold a flag saying "Black Trans Lives Matter" outside City Hall during a march in commemoration of Juneteenth Friday, June 19, 2020, in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Missouri's attorney general announced new requirements for adults seeking gender affirming care.
  • Adults with depression are banned from seeking care until their mental health issues are resolved. 
  • Other requirements include three consecutive years of gender dysphoria and months of therapy. 

An emergency regulation announced by Missouri's attorney general on Thursday could severely limit access to gender-affirming care in the state, setting several new requirements for trans adults seeking treatment. 

Attorney General Andrew Bailey's sweeping regulation would prohibit medical providers from providing gender-affirming care unless a number of requirements are met. While some of the regulation's requirements are specified by age group, its most expansive provisions, including a potential three-year delay in care, would be in place regardless of the patient's age.

Bailey's proposal would go into effect on April 27 and last until February 6, 2024.

The ACLU of Missouri and Lambda Legal responded with a joint statement promising legal action against the attorney general and emergency regulation. "We will defend the rights of transgender people through any necessary legal action, just as we have done in other states engaging in this anti-science and discriminatory fearmongering." 

The statement added: "The Attorney General's so-called emergency rule is based on distorted, misleading, and debunked claims and ignores the overwhelming body of scientific and medical evidence supporting this care as well as the medical experts and doctors who work with transgender people every day."

The ACLU of Missouri had previously said that the attorney general, a Republican, overstepped his authority when it condemned Bailey's initial announcement of the policy in March. The state attorney general is basing his regulation on a law aimed at fraudulent business practices, The Missouri Independent reported. 

"During the first months since being appointed as Missouri's Attorney General, Andrew Bailey has politicized his office by inserting himself into highly coordinated administrative, legislative, and alt-right media-driven attacks on transgender youth," PROMO, an LGBTQ+ public policy and advocacy organization in the state, said in response to the regulation. "His actions today fanned the flames of hate by including transgender adults' ability to access care in his culture war."

The proposal includes two potentially year-plus delays in care if a medical provider cannot document previous care.

A provider would need to show that a patient has a "medically documented, long-lasting, persistent and intense pattern of gender dysphoria" for "at least the 3 most recent consecutive years" before seeking treatment and that they have received "a full psychological or psychiatric assessment" over at least 18 months consisting of at least 15 hours worth of therapy. 

Adults with depression or other mental health issues would not be able to receive gender-affirming care until those existing issues "have been treated and resolved," the regulation says.

Patients would also need to be screened for autism.

Before care could be administered, the regulation also requires that parents or guardians be provided a 23-bullet pointed list of reasons questioning gender-affirming care, citing international restrictions, studies, and journal articles. As The Missouri Independent pointed out, one of the studies cited was later revised after academics questioned its methodology. 

Republicans and conservatives have moved to restrict gender-affirming care and other trans rights in recent years. GOP governors in Indiana and Idaho just signed into law bans on minors receiving such care last week. Bailey's restrictions on adult care may signal a new wave of restrictions to come.

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Warner Bros. Discovery has unveiled Max, its Netflix killer. Here are the new streamer's advantages and challenges as CEO David Zaslav looks to fire up Wall Street.

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:50pm
From left: Warner Bros. Discovery execs Casey Bloys, Kathleen Finch, CEO David Zaslav, and JB Perrette.
  • Warner Bros. Discovery announced its long-anticipated streaming service on Wednesday.
  • The new app, Max, will offer content from HBO Max and Discovery+, a bid to drive growth as linear TV declines.
  • WBD stock slid 6% the day of the presentation, which featured CEO David Zaslav and top deputies.

Warner Bros. Discovery announced the details of its new streaming app on Wednesday, after much anticipation from Hollywood and Wall Street.

The service, called Max, will combine HBO's premium scripted content and originals like "Succession" with Discovery+'s lower-brow reality programming like "90-Day Fiancé," as well as Warner Bros. films and the DC Universe.

The service, with the tagline "The One to Watch," will debut May 23 in the US, with international rollouts to follow in markets where HBO Max is available. The prices will stay the same for HBO Max subscribers, who will begin to be automatically ported over to the new service. A third, higher-priced option will offer increased streams, sound quality, and resolution.

Here are the options:

  • Max Ad-Lite: An ad-supported version costing $9.99 per month with two concurrent streams and no offline downloads
  • Max Ad Free: an ad-free version costing $15.99 per month and allowing two concurrent streams and 30 online downloads
  • Max Ultimate Ad Free: a new $19.99 per month tier including four concurrent streams, 100 offline downloads, and up to 4K UHD resolution

On hand to introduce the service at an event on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, were CEO David Zaslav, streaming chief JB Perrette, US networks head Kathleen Finch, and HBO content chair Casey Bloys.

"Consumers are overloaded," Perrette said in prepared remarks. "In this era of peak confusion, we're trying to simplify for consumers ... Max will have a broad array of quality choices for everybody."

WBD is calling Max an "enhanced app" and listed a variety of features it hopes will entice people to subscribe and renew, including smooth video playback, personalization, and simplified navigation. Kids content also will be more prominent, addressing an acknowledged shortcoming in HBO Max's offering.

The company also used the event to showcase a variety of new programming coming to the app, aimed at seemingly every demographic and interest. Bloys said Max would feature 40 new titles per month and new forthcoming series "The Penguin," a prequel origin story of "It," and a spinoff of "The Big Bang Theory."

He also announced the newest installment from the "Game of Thrones" universe, called "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight," and the first Harry Potter live action TV series.

"We're not a giant undifferentiated blob of programming," he said.

A marketing campaign featuring some of the portfolio's biggest stars like Issa Rae and Joanna Gaines will blanket WBD channels in the weeks leading up to the launch.

WBD has a lot riding on the success of Max. Building a profitable streaming business is a huge part of the company's plan to justify its 2022 merger that combined AT&T's WarnerMedia and Discovery. The new streamer has to not only lower costs and churn for the company but also grow its subscriber base with a breadth of content and new features. The company sped up its timeline to launch the app this spring, a few months ahead of the original planned date of summer 2023. It's expanded the content available for ads on HBO Max, a move that's expected to carry over to the new app. 

But it faces big headwinds. The linear TV business that WBD heavily depends on is declining faster than expected, and Netflix's big correction of 2022 has cast new doubt on streaming's profit potential. Wall Street wasn't initially impressed — WBD's stock declined nearly 6% Wednesday.

HBO Max and Discovery+'s combined subscribership (which, including HBO, topped 96 million at the end of 2022) is currently dwarfed by Netflix, which has 231 million global subscribers and is widely considered a must-have app. WBD has to convince viewers that its new combined app, while it may not have as much content as Netflix and is also priced at the top of the market, has enough breadth and familiar, beloved content to satisfy everyone in the family.

From an ad sales perspective, the timing isn't ideal for WBD, since advertisers will have committed a lot of their annual TV ad spending by the time the app launches. WBD also has more competition for streaming ad dollars, with Disney+ and Netflix having recently introduced new ad-supported tiers.

Integrating the two apps has been a tall task in its own right. Each has its own tech platform and sensibility, and getting the user experience wrong could risk losing subscribers. 

Presenting the entire WBD content catalog on the combined streamer without diluting HBO's prestige factor was another challenge. 

Dropping HBO in the app's name means WBD will have to do more to promote the HBO content, Lightshed Partners wrote in a research note. "It is very hard to build a brand from a standing start, let alone ones with the brand equity that HBO and to a lesser extent Discovery enjoy today," the firm wrote.  

Data shared with Insider by Antenna, a subscription measurement firm, showed there's relatively little overlap across the two apps, with only 7% of HBO Max and Discovery+ subscribers having both services as of February. Antenna noted that the overlap only accounts for users who signed up after January 1, 2017, and data is collected at the account level, not household level.

HBO Max has greater recognition with younger consumers, according to a new Samba TV/HarrisX poll, which could help grow awareness for Discovery+. Only 41% of Gen-Z respondents to the poll had heard of Discovery+, which was lower than Tubi, The Roku Channel, Peacock, and other services. Gen Z, meanwhile, was more likely to have heard of HBO Max than the average US adult (65% of Gen Z had, compared to 63% of total respondents).

"Leaning into content that speaks to younger audiences is a big area of possible growth for the Discovery+ service," said Dallas Lawrence, SVP of Samba TV.

On the other hand, there's no guarantee Discovery+ subscribers will step up for the bigger bundle when they may be satisfied with the Discovery+ offering and price of as little as $5 per month. And WBD doesn't want to shut down a service that's already profitable.

So for now, WBD is keeping the Discovery+ app around while it offers users extended trials and other offers to sign up for Max.

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I was the CEO of Arby's. I'm auctioning off my Texas mansion with a lowly $2.5 million starting bid because my wife and I are getting older and neither of us wants to live here alone.

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:46pm
The businessman Len Roberts and his wife, Laurie, lived in their house for 19 years and are ready to move on.
  • Len Roberts, who served as the CEO of Arby's and RadioShack, is auctioning his Texas estate.
  • The 11,792-square-foot home in Fort Worth was built for hosting fundraisers and galas.
  • Roberts is auctioning off his home at a discount, knowing he won't get a return on investment.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Len Roberts, 74, about his choice to auction off his nearly 12,000-square-foot home on 1.82 acres in Fort Worth, Texas. Bidding starts April 24, with the starting bid at $2.5 million and a 10% buyer's premium. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

We're not moving from this home for financial reasons. We're moving to simplify our lives.

We're empty nesters — it's just me and my wife now. It's a big house, and you have to manage it.

People always talk about people who live in castles, "What is it like living in this big castle with just the two of you?"

The key question is which one of us will predecease the other. I asked my wife, "Would you want to be in this big home alone?" She said she'd leave the next day. I said the same thing. I just don't want to be in this big home by myself.

We found a home 3 miles away that we felt comfortable in at our age.

I'm expecting a loss, but we've already got our money's worth out of the home"I always dreamt, if I ever made it in life, I wanted a limestone home. So that was my condition," Roberts said.

We built this home in 2004 and put in $12 million to build it. The replacement value, done by AIG, is $21 million. It's been like that for five years.

We had the resources to build what we wanted, and we built our dream home. Our builder had an unlimited budget — I kid around and say he still found a way to exceed it.

We had 19 wonderful years here, and we never really thought we would get a return on our investment. We're at peace knowing that. We got our money's worth.

An auction is the best way. The auction house recommended $2.5 million be an entry point, and we trust their expertise. We don't want to do anything to discourage anyone from participating in the auction.

Even though the house is in Texas, it features traces of our early lives in Chicago

My wife really built this home.

The only conditions I had were that it would be large enough for the entertaining we wanted to do and that this home would be built from limestone.

I was born and raised on the west side of Chicago. My family didn't have much.

We never went anywhere on vacation outside of Chicago. But every summer we would look forward to our summer vacation, which was basically going to the museums of Chicago — they're all limestone. And so I fell in love with limestone.

I always dreamt, if I ever made it in life, I wanted a limestone home. So that was my condition.

I met my wife in Chicago when I was 16, and there's a home theater in the house that goes back to our Chicago days.

As teenagers, we went to the Marbro Theatre. It was during those days when they had very ornate theaters for movies.

Roberts' home theater replicates the Marbro Theatre in Chicago.

We searched high and low and we found the exact plans of that theater — the colors, the way the ceiling was made, the materials they used for the walls — and we duplicated that design in our home theater. The only thing that's different are the seats we sit in.

It's one of my favorite rooms.

I built this home to host some of the biggest fundraisers in Fort Worth

We did a lot of entertaining in this home, due to my position as the CEO of the largest corporation in Fort Worth. That all stopped when I retired in 2006.

The estate sits on 1.82 acres.

We orchestrated some of the biggest galas and charity events in Fort Worth, Texas, in this beautiful home. We've hosted at least 100 events. Everyone who's anyone has been in this home having dinner — sometimes 250 people.

We built this house with 120 audio speakers because we knew we were going to have a lot of events here, and when you host a charity you're always going to have a featured speaker.

I didn't want people to stop what they were doing to come squeeze in, like you normally have to, and listen to somebody talk. I wanted them to be able to relax, listen to whatever the speaker was going to talk about.

Roberts says he's hosted more than 100 events at this home.

We're leaving the PA infrastructure there. So whoever buys this home is going to get a home that is very ready to entertain and to host events.

We hope that whoever gets this house will make it as available to the community as we have.

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Clarence Thomas sold his childhood home to GOP donor Harlan Crow and never disclosed it. The justice's 94-year-old mom still lives there: ProPublica

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:22pm
Associate US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas poses for the official photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on October 7, 2022.
  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sold property to GOP donor Harlan Crow, ProPublica reported.
  • After the purchase, in 2014, Crow paid for $36,000 in improvements to the property.
  • Neighbors said Thomas's 94-year-old mother still lives at the home in Savannah, Georgia.

Under federal law, an employee of the government, including the Supreme Court, is supposed to report any real estate transaction worth more than a thousand dollars.

But when Justice Clarence Thomas and his family sold his childhood home in 2014, the sale never appeared on a disclosure form, ProPublica reported on Thursday, nor did he reveal the identity of the buyer: Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow.

Citing a state tax filing and a deed to the property — a home and two nearby vacant lots in Savannah, Georgia — ProPublica said the transaction netted $133,363 for Thomas, his mother, and his now-deceased brother.

Neighbors who spoke to the outlet said the home, where Thomas spent part of his youth, is still occupied by the justice's 94-year-old mother. It is also in much better condition than before the sale, with Crow having invested $36,000 in improvements, ProPublica reported.

In a statement, Crow told ProPublica that he intends to turn the property into a museum dedicated to Thomas. He did not say whether he's charging the justice's mother any rent.

Liberal critics of the justice have pounced on the news, which comes after leading Democrats urged Chief Justice John Roberts to open an investigation following an earlier report about Thomas receiving free travel from Crown valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"One thing is crystal clear: this is corruption at the highest levels, and it can't be accepted," Kyle Herrig, president of the watchdog group Accountable.US, said in a statement. "Justice Thomas must be held accountable."

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter:

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JPMorgan requires managing directors return to office 5 days a week and 'be visible on the floor' or else face 'corrective action'

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:10pm
JPMorgan recently told managing directors they are required to be in the office five days a week.
  • JPMorgan informed employees Wednesday that managing directors are required to come to the office five days a week.
  • Many of JPMorgan's lower-level employees are still required to come to the office three days a week.
  • Read the entire memo obtained by Insider's Carter Johnson here.

JPMorgan issued a memo to employees on Wednesday informing managing directors of a new requirement to be in the office five days per week. The announcement also reminded other staffers of the current mandate of working in person three days per week.

The memo, which was obtained by Insider's Carter Johnson, warned employees of Wall Street's largest bank of potential "corrective action" if they fail to meet office attendance requirements.

It also stated that the responsibilities of managing directors include being "visible on the floor," along with meeting with clients and being available for feedback and advice with lower-level employees. JPMorgan has about 1,600 managing directors, according to 2019 CNBC report.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has been a public skeptic of remote work, and said as early as April 2021 that he was confident most employees would eventually return to the office. In his annual shareholder letter in 2021, as well as in past interviews, Dimon said he believes remote work lacks many of the features of working in an office, including in-person spontaneity like immediately following up on an idea with a coworker after a meeting. 

The Wednesday memo also thanked employees who work in the bank's retail branches, and don't have the choice to work remotely. For employees who work a hybrid schedule, JPMorgan reminded them of the three-day-per-week requirement, and cautioned there will be ramificaitons for staffers that do not adhere to the mandates.

"You're responsible for meeting your hybrid model requirements," the memo reads. "Your manager is responsible for ensuring that attendance requirements are being met and in cases where they aren't, taking the appropriate performance management steps, which could include corrective action."

Read the memo in full from Insider's Carter Johnson here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best LED strip lights in 2023: Top picks for every room

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:08pm

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LED strip lights can bring light and shimmering color to every corner of a room.

While our selection of the best smart light bulbs will brighten up your home and help you set the right mood, LED strip lights can take it to the next level. 

LED strip lights are a smart solution for illuminating dim areas like under cabinets. They can add interest to an otherwise boring desk or bedroom. You can even use a strip light to add an immersive experience to your home theater.

Depending on your application, you'll want a strip light that's bright and colorful with creative effects and useful features. You'll also want to consider how they integrate into your smart-home ecosystem. Below you'll find our favorite smart LED strip lights, based on years of testing. 

Our top picks for the best LED strip lights

Best overall: Lifx Lightstrip with Color Zones - See at Amazon
For the brightest, most vivid colors, nothing can compete with the Lifx Lightstrip with Color Zones.

Best budget: Tapo L930-5 Multicolor Light Strip - See at Amazon
Offering brightness, affordability, and fun features, the Tapo L930-5 includes a surprising amount of features at a low price point.

Best outdoor: Govee Phantasy Pro Outdoor Strip Light - See at Amazon
The Govee Phantasy Pro Outdoor Strip Light has a huge variety of effects and a ton of ways to customize.

Best for task lighting: Nanoleaf Essentials Smart Lighstrip - See at Amazon
With its bright whites, the Nanoleaf Essentials Lightstrip is the perfect choice for wherever you need extra illumination.

Best for TVs: Govee M1 LED Strip Light -  See at Amazon
With a built-in microphone and tons of customizability, the Govee M1 LED Strip Light can make watching your favorite show more immersive.

Best overall: Lifx Lightstrip with Color ZonesThe Lifx Lightstrip adds bold and bright color around your home.
  • Brightness: 700 lumens
  • Lifetime: 25,000 hours
  • Power usage: 8 watts
  • Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT
  • Hub needed: No

LED strip lights are a great way to add ambiance to a room but only if they deliver vibrant colors and interesting effects. If you want a strip that beams beautiful colors that are bright enough to illuminate dark corners, then you'll want to take a look at the Lifx Light Strip with Color Zones

Of all the options we tested, the Lifx Light Strip with Color Zones has the best balance of brightness and features. Its white settings were dimmer than a few others, like the Nanoleaf Essentials Smart Lightstrip, our pick for the best task lighting. However, no other strip came close to matching the brightness of its red, green, blue, and violet settings. 

For bold colors and fun effects, the Lifx delivers. Whether they're installed behind a bed, under a bookcase, or lined up in the corners of a room, they'll provide an eye-catching accent in whatever colors you like. You can choose between nine options for lighting effects with adjustable speeds, including strobe, pastels, and twinkle. 

The Lifx app allows you to create your own schedules or edit preset routines, like O.K. to wake and circadian rhythm. You can also group the strip with other Lifx bulbs so they all come on at the same time. 

One thing to note with the Lifx Light Strip is that you can't save effects. So if you want a certain effect to have a specific color scheme, you'll have to adjust the color each time. However, some effects support several preset color themes, like "mellow" and "spacey." That said, you can save and customize static colors with the paint function, adding different hues along the length of the strip. 

The strip light is available in 40, 80, and 120 inches. With the 40 inch, you'll need to purchase a longer attachment for most areas. Despite not being as customizable as other strip lights, no other strip light came close to matching the Lifx's bright colors.

Best budget: Tapo L930-5 Multicolor Light StripTP-Link's Tapo L930-5 Multicolor Light Strip is the brightest option if you're on a budget.
  • Brightness: 1000 lumens
  • Lifetime: 25,000 hours
  • Power usage: 13 watts
  • Smart-home compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings
  • Hub needed: No

There are no shortage of budget options for strip lights, but most are flimsy and emit pale, washed-out colors that are depressingly dim. TP-Link's Tapo L930-5 Multicolor Light Strip comes in a thick, plastic coating and offers the brightest colors of any sub-$50 strip light we tested. 

The Tapo L930-5 is an RGBWIC LED strip, meaning it has both RGB lights and tunable white LEDs. The Tapo puts its pretty colors to good use with some fun effects, and it allows you to  edit the colors and speed of these effects or create your own. You can further customize how the strip appears by applying different colors to 50 individual segments. 

If you want a strip light that can sync with music, the Tapo can do that, albeit in a rudimentary way. Unlike our pick for the best TV strip light, the Govee M1, which has built-in microphones, the Tapo uses the mic on your phone to pick up sound. That means you have to leave the app open. It's not as seamless as Govee's experience, but it is a nice feature to have on a budget strip.

Tapo's app is very straightforward and simple to figure out. The home page has a "favorites" list of devices. Tap on the strip light, and you can control the color and brightness. There's also a menu along the bottom for themes, schedules, away settings, and timers. If you want to turn the strip on or off, there's a power button on the light's cord. 

Plus, you can incorporate the strip light into a wide range of smart-home ecosystems like Apple HomeKit and use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for voice control. 

While the Tapo is plenty bright for most situations, there are some trade-offs for the budget price. Connection points where the strip attaches to the cord might detach at the slightest jostle, and the strip light didn't have the strongest adhesive backing, either. But with a decent length and for about $40, the Tapo gives you the most vibrant colors and one of the simplest apps.

Best outdoor: Govee Phantasy Pro Outdoor Strip LightFor outdoor lights that are super customizable, the Govee Phantasy Pro Light Strip delivers.
  • Brightness: 150 lumens per meter
  • Lifetime: 25,000 hours
  • Power usage: 52.8 watts
  • Smart-home compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Water resistance: IP65 but adapter needs to be covered
  • Hub needed: No

If you like to illuminate your outdoor space in colors, weather-resistant strip lights are a good way to go. You can leave them up year-round, and they're, well … not Christmas lights. The Govee Phantasy Pro Outdoor Strip Light is endlessly customizable and offers great bang for your buck at about $70 for 32 feet of illumination. 

Govee strip lights offer an overwhelming amount of ways to display colors. You can set 15 individual segments to a different color and brightness or apply one of the dozens of effects. "Ballet," "deep sea," and "meditation" are just a few of the many options that cycle through different colors and brightnesses in impressive displays. In the Effects Lab tab, there are colors grouped by emotions, fruits, flags, and natural sights. You can create DIY effects with your own hues, transitions, brightness, and speeds.

You can use voice control for the strip light via Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa. You can also set timers and schedules to have the strip turn on at certain times. An internal microphone can sync the lights to music or other sounds.

One big flaw with the Govee is that its adaptor isn't waterproof, so you'll want to keep it protected from the elements. The strip itself is weather-resistant, though. We also liked the GE Cync Dynamic Effects outdoor strip, but it is substantially more expensive. But if you want something that feels very heavy duty, the Cync strip is about as thick as a garden hose.

For the price, it's tough to top the Govee Phantasy Pro, which has a staggering amount of lighting effects that are perfect for making your house stand out.

Best for task lighting: Nanoleaf Essentials Smart LightstripThe Nanoleaf Essentials Smart Light Strip delivers the brightest whites of any we tested, perfect for under-cabinet lighting.
  • Brightness: 2200 lumens
  • Lifetime: 25,000 hours
  • Power usage: 23 watts
  • Smart-home compatibility: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Thread
  • Hub needed: No

Strip lights can be immensely useful in illuminating dim areas like under kitchen cabinets, and if you're looking for a strip light for tasks like cooking, you likely care more about bright whites than vibrant colors. The Nanoleaf Essentials Smart Light Strip has the brightest white options of any we tested. 

Even if you're planning on using the strip mainly for its white light, the colorful scenes and effects available are very customizable for holidays and parties. Nanoleaf is best known for its vibrant light panels, and the strip light can showcase similar effects, allowing you to choose up to seven colors to loop between. Its control box is also one of the more useful, letting you power it on or off, change the brightness, and click through the color settings. Voice control is also available via Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Apple's Siri. 

One of the areas where the Nanoleaf falls short is scheduling. You need to use either the Google Home app or Apple HomeKit to set schedules. That's a feature that's available natively in every other strip light we tested, so it's disappointing that the Nanoleaf lacks it. Otherwise, it works with a good number of smart-home platforms.  

The Nanoleaf's starter kit is a comparatively short 80-inch strip, but you can add expansions up to 32 feet. That should be enough for most kitchens so your strip light can illuminate your workspace with its bright whites.  

Best for TV: Govee M1 LED Strip LightA vast number of effects and the ability to sync with sound make the Govee M1 LED Strip Light a dazzling addition to an entertainment center.
  • Brightness: 581 lumens per meter
  • Lifetime: 25,000 hours
  • Power usage: 72 watts
  • Smart-home compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Hub needed: No

Adding a strip light to your TV can turn watching your favorite show into an atmospheric experience. With its built-in microphone and bold colors, the Govee M1 Strip Light brings an element of fun to your entertainment center. 

The mic lets the strip light respond to whatever sounds it picks up. Based on the rhythm you select (there are 11 options), the lights will brighten or flash. You can select the colors you want and change the sensitivity of what the mic picks up. If you prefer to make your own scenes, there are countless ways to apply different colors and effects to the strip. 

As with the outdoor Govee lights, you can use Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa for voice control. It's also fairly simple to set timers and schedules, including having the lights automatically turn on in the morning and off at night. 

Govee also makes the Envisual TV Backlight T2, which uses a camera to sync its colors with whatever's on your screen. The effect is cool, but it also costs $40 more than the M1. But because it's specifically designed to attach to TVs, the strip has flexible corners that help it fit along sets. 

To help immerse you in a movie or bring some liveliness to a dance party, the Govee M1's spectacular array of effects and bright hues make it an ideal addition to your home theater.

What to look for in an LED strip lightLED strip lights are great for colorful displays and task lighting, but how you use it will dictate which one is right for you.

First, you'll want to understand how you're using the strip light. If you want it for ambient lighting for everyday use and entertaining, then you'll want one with vibrant colors and robust effects. For task lighting, a bright but more simple strip may suffice.

Many RGB strip lights will allow you to change from warm to cool whites in addition to changing colors, but only RGBW lights can produce a clean white light similar to standard light bulbs.

Depending on where you put the strip light, you'll want to consider length. Some are as long as 32 feet while others are 40 or 80 inches. If the length of the strip doesn't exactly match the space, you can usually trim it to size, but keep in mind how that impacts colors.

When it comes to brightness, LED strip lights don't always have their lumens listed the way bulbs do. Some give an overall number and others list them in lumens per meter. In general, the higher the lumens, the brighter the light.

For features, you'll want to consider how you control the strip light. The accompanying app should have useful features like schedules and timers or vacation mode. Several strip lights have built-in microphones for syncing to music or use cameras to mimic colors on a TV or computer screen.

Lastly, you should check how the strip light will integrate with your existing smart-home system. Voice control is a huge perk of smart lighting, and every option we tested works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. However, fewer work with Apple HomeKit.

You may want an option that's expandable if you want a more robust lighting setup later down the road. Consider how they work with other smart devices, too, like the ability to turn on if your security camera detects motion.

How we test LED strip lightsWe test every strip light in house.

We use benchmark tests and utilize each strip light in our homes to gauge their performance in everyday circumstances. With a light meter, we test each strip's brightness on cool white and warm white settings. We measure the strip's dimness at 50%, 10%, and 1% to see if these settings are accurate and useful. Brightness for red, green, blue, and violet are also tested. 

During setup, we time each step of installing the app and setting up the light, noting any delays in the pairing process. We unplug the strip for several days then check and see if it needs to be set up again. Each strip is attached to a bookcase and left for 24 hours to see how well the adhesive holds. For the app, we take into account how easy it is to navigate, features,  scheduling options, and the privacy settings and permissions. 

Using an Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant device, we test how well the strips respond to voice commands. If the strip is compatible, we also add it to Apple HomeKit. We look at the number and type of available automations for IFTTT as well.

LED strip light FAQsCan you cut LED strip lights?

Many manufacturers include directions for cutting their strip lights. Once cut, though, the excess piece is no longer functional. Cutting the strip may also affect how the colors are displayed.

Do LED strip lights use a lot of electricity? 

The lower the wattage, the less electricity a device uses. All the strip lights on this list use between 8 and 75 watts of electricity. That ranges from about the wattage of an LED to that of an incandescent. 

Do LED strip lights get hot? 

While strip lights stay relatively cool, it's still important to keep them uncovered. Though the risk of a fire is low, it's not impossible. Lower-quality strip lights may also pose a greater fire risk.

Read the original article on Business Insider

This new paperwork rule could make getting student-loan forgiveness easier for government and nonprofit workers

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 3:00pm
  • The Education Department updated guidance for applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
  • Employers now have the option to digitally certify an employee's eligibility for the program.
  • Previously, strict paperwork requirements caused many borrowers' applications to be rejected.

A new change to a student-loan forgiveness program could make it easier for government and nonprofit workers to get relief.

President Joe Biden's Education Department updated guidance for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which is intended to forgive student debt for government and nonprofit workers after ten years of qualifying payments. 

Leading up to Biden's presidency, the program was flawed and borrowers in public service were being turned away for minor paperwork errors, along with issues having their employer certify their eligibility for the program.

Updated guidance could make that just a bit easier. According to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office, a borrower applying for PSLF needs the employer to verify information including the dates of employment for the employee and their name, contact information, title, and signature.

Previously, the Education Department had strict guidelines for those certification requirements, and applicants were rejected if a signature on paper did not meet specific requirements, like incorrect formatting of the date signed. Now, borrowers have the option to use a digital signature during FSA's testing period for this function.

"FSA has begun to implement and test a digital employer signature for PSLF," an Education Department spokesperson told Insider. "The Department will have more information once testing is complete."

According to the website, borrowers can use the PSLF Help Tool for "digital signature and submission capabilities." With that option, employers would receive an email from FSA via DocuSign to confirm borrowers' employment online rather than using the often error-prone paper forms required in the past.

Employers can still elect to use a manual form if they do not want to certify their information digitally.

This change is part of the Education Department's broader reforms to PSLF. In October 2021, it implemented a limited-time waiver to allow previously ineligible payments to count toward a borrower's loan forgiveness progress. While the waiver expired on October 31, the department also announced permanent changes to the program, including a one-time account adjustment to allow borrowers one more shot to get their payments up to date, even if they missed the waive deadline.

So far, 453,000 borrowers have gotten their debt wiped out under the PSLF reforms, and the department said it will continue processing the other applications submitted before the waiver deadline. To be sure, the process could take time given the department has limited resources to implement those reforms, along with resume repayment for federal student-loan borrowers this year and implement broad student-debt relief if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Biden's plan.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Hedge fund career guide: What you need to know if you want a job at an elite firm like Citadel, D.E. Shaw, or Point72

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 2:59pm
D.E. Shaw interns.
  • The biggest hedge funds are battling it out to attract and retain top talent and outperform peers.
  • Insider has talked to a number of hedge funds to get a peek into their recruiting strategies.
  • From internships to how they hire for tech, here's what we know about getting a job at a hedge fund.

The war for the top hedge fund talent cuts across all levels and positions. Firms like Citadel, Point72, D.E. Shaw, and Bridgewater are in constant competition for the best and brightest to help them gain an edge in the cutthroat investment industry. 

These funds, which have grown into behemoths, are now contributing serious time and resources to recruit for internship and training programs that could better guarantee them a steady employee pipeline.

Eye-popping pay, prestige, challenging work environments, and the promise of working with some of the best investors in the industry means they have a pretty attractive proposition to offer.

Internships at quant pioneer D.E. Shaw can pay up to $20,000. Entry-level analysts and software engineers get paid above 6 figures a year. Portfolio managers with winning strategies can take home millions. 

Insider has talked to some of the biggest hedge fund managers about how they attract talent, as well as ways to join their ranks and be successful at their firms. Here's everything we know. 

Internships and fellowships

The opaque and secretive world of hedge funds might not necessarily be an obvious choice for many college graduates. Massive money managers are launching new programs to change that and attract young, diverse wunderkinder at earlier stages than before. 

Citadel’s Johnna Shields with Justin Luo of the Citadel Associate Program.Internships have also become huge talent pipelines for some of the biggest multi-strategy hedge funds in the industry, which employ armies of traders and engineers. Programs are uber-competitive and harder to get into than many top Ivy League schools.Investment training programs

Typically, hedge funds acquired their investment talent after a few years of working at an investment bank. Increasingly though, the industry's top players are paying graduates to train through intensive programs that can lead to joining investment teams straight after college.  

Tech jobs 

Quant shops have long been battling it out with the finance industry and top tech companies for top technologists. Engineers and algorithm developers are key to helping researchers, data scientists, and traders develop cutting-edge investment strategies and platforms. 

Other resources, from recruiters to know to how to dominate a 5-hour interviewRead the original article on Business Insider

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